Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bits & Morsels

Preparing the pear and pecorino ravioli at Felidia.

"Bits and Morsels" is an ongoing collection of information from the world of the foodies and foodblogs:

One of the many things I love about New York is how you can be watching someone on television one morning and then find yourself dining at their restaurant that same night. This past weekend I went to Felidia, the flagship restaurant of Lidia Bastianich. While it is her restaurant, I did not expect to actually see Lidia in the flesh. In this age of over-branded and celebrity chefs, the last place I would look to find a chef of this status is at his/her restaurant.

Pear and pecorino ravioli, plated.
Felidia, which opened in 1981, is a cozy and sophisticated restaurant located on 58th street between Second and Third Avenues. It is two floors and smells like your grandmother's kitchen, assuming she knows exactly what she's doing. Having Lidia front, center and 'live' definitely added to the excitement of eating there. And Lidia was so genuine that it made for one of my more poignant recent memories. In my experience, when I meet someone whom I have only seen on TV, there is a big disconnect between their on-air personality and their real one. Lidia was just as she appears on her show.

The food at Felidia is delicious and very hearty. I sampled the pear and pecorino ravioli; it was the perfect combination of sweetness, saltiness and cheese. I also had the pasta special — fettuccini with garlic, mushrooms and tomatoes — which was my favorite dish of the night. It managed to taste both rich and fresh.

When you dine at Felidia you will feel right at home, and with Lidia by your side, how can you go wrong. "Tutti a tavola a mangiare."
Clockwise from top left: Lidia, 'live' and lovely; Fresh mozzarella with squash and broccoli rabe; Lobster risotto; The pasta special, fettuccini with garlic, mushrooms and tomatoes; The chef taking some time to say hello.
Clockwise from above: Snowing Parmigiano on a plate of pear and pecorino ravioli; Scottata di Tonno with herbs and spices, roasted radicchio, beets and balsamic vinaigrette; Nutella cake.
We will all miss coffee innovator Ernesto Illy, who died last week at 82. The Illy coffee company raised the bar on coffee and espresso by utilizing scientific equipment to manufacture the coffee and preserve its truest taste. In order for an Illy coffee bean to make it in the signature red and silver tin, it must pass 114 quality control tests. Mr. Illy was also a big advocate of drinking shots of espresso and taking that practice home with you. Much of its popularity is due to him. [The New York Times]

Click to order.
Happy Valentines Day! It would be impossible not to write about chocolate given that it's such an important aphrodisiac. I am currently reading a beautiful new book, “Chocolate,” by Paule Cuvelier.

“Chocolate” is composed of two volumes. One volume deals with the history of chocolate and the other is all about how to savor every last bite. The history of chocolate is a fascinating topic as chocolate is a global commodity and almost every corner of the globe has played an active role in its evolution. The book is filled with mouthwatering photographs and reading it will break down all willpower in keeping those chocolate kisses at bay. However, if you do give in, try and stick to dark chocolate with 70% cacao or higher as the higher the cacao, the higher its antioxidants.

Here is a recipe for chocolate banana spring rolls. These are a guaranteed hit and are pretty easy to make (anything fried with bananas and chocolate has to be tasty). Anyone can make a reservation, but taking the time to cook for someone really shows that you care. [Amazon Al Dente]

Till we eat again,
Jordana Z.

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